First Impressions of the Hozhoni Ambassador Pageant

 Photo//Taylor Rae Ann Riley Photography 

Photo//Taylor Rae Ann Riley Photography 

Ever since I started coming to Fort Lewis College, Miss Hozhoni was always honored in different indigenous clubs and she often spoke at major college events like graduations. I always remember seeing the wall of Hozhoni Ambassadors with her 1st attendant professional photos.

Each year the ladies portrait is neatly framed and they sit in chronological order in the Native American Centers conference room. During my freshman year, I honestly didn’t think anything of the pageant nor did I see myself wanting to run for it as well.

Now having competed I’m so happy that I tried out this pageant! Here are some of my first impressions of the program and why I would recommend competiting if you are a student at Fort Lewis College. 

Professional Photo Sessions

Hiring a photographer is really expensive.  But it’s refreshing when an organization invests in a photography session before and after the pageant regardless! As a contestant, you feel a sense of unity and almost feel like it’s an even playing field with the other contestants. Similar to the Miss Indian New Mexico pageant, the Miss Hozhoni pageant committee organized a photography session at the beginning so they may use the photos to introduce the contestants to the public for the first time. These portraits in my eyes serve almost as a keepsake to cherish forever! Plus, I see having a photo session for your contestants ups your status as an organization - valuing your brands consistency, only serving higher quality photos (as oppose to selfies some ladies provide to the organization for announcements), and not afraid to pamper your contestants (incentive to rerun if they do not walk away with the title the first time). 


    Pageant Qualifications and Title Choice  

     Photo//Michelle Alvarez Photography  

    Photo//Michelle Alvarez Photography  

    It’s common for a pageant system to list for qualifications of a contestant: not have been married and not have children or ever been pregnant. Better yet, I’m seeing more and more applications go as far say must have been born female! 

    The Hozhoni Ambassador program does not list or limit this opportunity from mothers or married individuals. It almost seems some pageant organizations believe the factors of children and a marriage would effect your priorities of the crown. The Hozhoni Ambassador program believes in representing the true body of FLC’s community and that includes our mothers and married students!

    If you think that opens a lot of opportunity up, this year they also went to change the name of “Miss” (Read more here: ) I would consider this pageant as an all gender pageant! Since I still identify myself as a Miss I choose that title for the year. It’s just so different from what my experience has been these past few years.

    Photo//Clyde Benally



    Scheduling and Judge Selection 


    Being a full time student and wanting to run in pageants are a big risk as it is. Traveling, time off work, and constantly asking for time off from class to compete is a struggle. But as a student running for an institutional pageant is the best of both worlds! The competitions and trainings/practice sessions were spread out over three weeks that lead up to the Hozhoni Days Pow Wow. 

    The competitions ran through the school year  and the committee was well aware of it. The competitions fell at 6:30 PM in the evenings every Tuesday. This made it possible to fit my classes, RA position, and study time within the little time I had left over to participate! I was not overwhelmed with more then one competition a week.

    When the time came to compete, standing up on the stage and looking at the judging panel they were known members of the FLC community. I saw past Miss Hozhoni’s, past 1st attendants, members from the Student Government, community members, and faculty. It felt fair and completely representative of the entire organization. If you have not run in a pageant this is definitely one of the good first timer pageants to consider. The small size and care the committee takes to run this pageant every year is admirable.


    In closing 

    The Hozhoni Ambassador pageant happens every April in Durango, CO during The Hozhoni Days Pow Wow. The pow wow is put on by a student run organization that has been a big part of the Fort Lewis College community. I recommend coming through and seeing what this campus and students are all about.